Pecan for acoustic guitar

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Ryan Mazzocco
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Pecan for acoustic guitar

Post by Ryan Mazzocco »

Hey all.
I have a client, repeat customer, that is wanting me to build him a guitar out of some Pecan lumber that he has that came from his property.
I don't know anything about the specific wood that he has, I'm waiting to get more info about the stock itself, but just in generalities, what can I expect from a guitar with Pecan back/sides. I've tried searching the web and all I get is a bunch of, 'I guess it could work,' or 'there's probably a reason you don't see it much,' or 'probably similar to hickory.' And when I search the MIMF all I can seem to find is Pecan listed in among a bunch of woods that 'have made some pretty fine guitars.'
But more specifically, have any of you made an acoustic guitar with Pecan back/sides? how have they turned out? I know the wood is hard, but how it to work with? What sort of sound did it have? is it stable? any other concerns that I should take into consideration?

Thanks!


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Bryan Bear
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Re: Pecan for acoustic guitar

Post by Bryan Bear »

I've never worked with it but according to the wood database, its density falls between hard maple and Tzalam but is a bit harder than those woods (a bit under ziricote). The drunk diameter is between 2-4 feet so getting a quarter sawn board large enough for a dread may be a problem.

Wood database has this to say for its workability:
Difficult to work, with tearout being common during machining operations if cutting edges are not kept sharp; the wood tends to blunt cutting edges. Glues, stains, and finishes well. Responds well to steam bending.

So I would guess bending would not be an issue and guitar makers use lots of woods that are "difficult to work." I wouldn't have any reservations about using it if someone wanted me to and the stock was appropriately cut and dried. I'm not sure it would be visually appealing to me to use if someone wasn't asking me to use it.
PMoMC

Take care of your feet and your feet will take care of you.

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Barry Daniels
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Re: Pecan for acoustic guitar

Post by Barry Daniels »

I have heard that it is unstable which is why you don't see it used for cabinetry or furniture.
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Freeman Keller
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Re: Pecan for acoustic guitar

Post by Freeman Keller »

I was told that the hardwood floors in our hundred year old farm house were pecan. I've never tried to verify that. They are beautiful.

Alan Carruth
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Re: Pecan for acoustic guitar

Post by Alan Carruth »

Brazilian rosewood is pretty unstable, too, but that doesn't stop us.

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Ryan Mazzocco
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Re: Pecan for acoustic guitar

Post by Ryan Mazzocco »

Freeman Keller wrote:
Thu Jul 02, 2020 7:56 pm
I was told that the hardwood floors in our hundred year old farm house were pecan. I've never tried to verify that. They are beautiful.
Yeah, I've seen it used for flooring too. Not an entire floor, but I've seen it used as accents or borders with other species. If it's stable enough for a hardwood floor it can't be too awful bad.
Bryan Bear wrote:
Thu Jul 02, 2020 9:18 am
Difficult to work, with tearout being common during machining operations if cutting edges are not kept sharp; the wood tends to blunt cutting edges. Glues, stains, and finishes well. Responds well to steam bending


I hear it's similar to working with hickory, which I know can prone to splintering and tearout. That gives me pause somewhat, especially when it comes to routing for the binding, even though I have the worlds best binding router jig ever invented.
Alan Carruth wrote:
Fri Jul 03, 2020 12:04 pm
Brazilian rosewood is pretty unstable, too, but that doesn't stop us.
Good point!
Well shoot, if it's good enough for Collings then who am I to say it can't be used on a guitar?

Of course I still haven't seen his stock yet, so I guess it'll really all depend on what I find when I get to look at it.

Bob Howell
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Re: Pecan for acoustic guitar

Post by Bob Howell »

Its classified as a hickory in the lumber industry. The most important factor will be how the tree grew; most are pruned to produce nuts with branching at 4-8" into 3 or 4 major branches. So the bulk of tree will have reaction wood throughout and be unstable. If it grew in a forested area and left to its own nature it might have usable wood. I was given a walnut tree that grew in an open area but straight for 25-30'. Wood had a lot of wind shake that reduced usable lumber. I cut and split the wood into billets 4' long; along the major shake splits. I let it dry in the field for 6 years. Got some neck blanks sides and a few backs but mostly spindle turning stock for chair parts. But this from a 28" tree which is big in suburban Atlanta.

You can judge the wood for quality once it has air dried for 2-3 years.

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